Stambridge Post Office

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Stambridge Post Office' page

Click image to enlarge

By Mavis Sipple

Joan Stoneman ran the post office in Stambridge in the 1960s. Here, she relates some of her memories of life and work there..

"The general shop in Stambridge was a bakery cum post office when we purchased it in 1967. Before the Post Office was installed, it was just a bakery owned by Harry Barker. He and his wife baked bread on the premises, he loaded it up on his horse and cart, to do the rounds of the surrounding villages. Sometimes it was getting on for midnight when the horse and cart returned, with Harry fast asleep and the horse bringing him home. Harry had called in at every pub on the journey. We found Harry’s tin hat still hanging on the door of the shop. There was just a desk on a counter for the post office and a strange wooden box on wheels, when we opened it we found a whole wedding cake inside, probably from the war.

...and a strange wooden box on wheels. When we opened it, we found a whole wedding cake inside, probably from the war.

When we got it out, it crumbled to dust. We found out later that it was one of the first ice boxes.                     
It took us five years to put the place into shape, keeping it in character. Most of it the walls were wooden with five layers of paper.  Underneath the paper were beams, whole trees. 

The loo and bathroom were the old grain store and when we stripped the walls we found original adverts for Rinso and Persil, which we managed to steam off and send back to Lever Bros. The old barn, which we turned into a garage, was where he (Harry Barker) had kept the animals and eggs were found among the straw, they were so old you couldn’t even crack them.

The village was small, about five council houses and and several cottages. Across the road was Molly with her boiled sweet shop, a lovely old fashioned lady, but the children used to tease her and run off with things. Behind her shop was the coal yard also using Horse and cart to deliver. Next door was the Royal Oak pub run by Kit who was a lovely cook and very good with the old folk. The pub is the only one of these that still exists.

Down the lane was a farm and the Essex Hunt used that farmer’s land to hunt on. One day I saw a fox coming up the lane, she looked pregnant. Ahead of the hunt we opened the garden gate to let her inside the shed until  the  hunt had gone by. Further down the road was the Trout Farm, run by a family. It was very popular.

The fields behind the Trout Farm were owned by Rankin Mills they grew among other things peas for the Birds Eye people, these were harvested in the wee small hours of the morning, by machine. They had to be back to the factory to be frozen with in a certain amount of hours. Not much sleep for the village when that went on!  One year Rankins decided to plant tulips, which were  a picture, field after field of all colours, but it was a ‘one off’ As the police complained it caused too many traffic jams in Stambridge  (headlines in the paper, bad news for the villagers.)

This page was added by Mave Sipple on 06/02/2011.
Add a comment about this page

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.